Justice: At the “Core” of our Curriculum

Posted on: June 25th, 2012
Thank you for visiting Loyola’s Social Justice Web Portal.  Throughout the summer and over the course of the next academic year, I hope you land here from time to time and take time to read and consider the various perspectives on social justice that members of the Loyola community share with you on this site. As Loyola’s provost, my views on social justice are decidedly academic, and have most recently been focused on the role that justice plays in our undergraduate Core Curriculum.  If you are an undergraduate Loyola student, these next set of remarks are intended for you.
Throughout the university’s history, the Core Curriculum for undergraduates has been central to its Jesuit tradition of educating the whole person. Loyola’s Core Curriculum outlines the university’s fundamental belief in what you, as a Loyola graduate, need to be able to do (skills), know (knowledge), become and promote in your life, your work and your community (values).  Among Loyola’s core values is justice, which includes a commitment to building a more just and humane society. Within this framework, I take very seriously the role that academic matters can play in the development, delivery, and realization of our core values, including justice.

The creation and development of a Core Curriculum for undergraduates is one way in which the university espouses the values that are central to a Jesuit education; how we deliver the Core Curriculum is the enactment of those values.  (Think of espoused values—what we say about the Core—as ‘talking the talk,’ and think of enacted values—the courses we design, schedule, and teach—as ‘walking the walk.’)
Over the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of ensuring that we do more than just ‘talk the talk’ about Loyola’s core curriculum and the key role it plays in helping our students to understand and promote justice in their lives. Starting in the Fall of 2012, we will introduce a revised Core Curriculum to you, redesigned to better address the fundamental and universal questions—including questions of social justice—that have been the hallmark of a Jesuit education.  Courses newly developed for the Core have been inspired by the document Transformative Education in the Jesuit Tradition, and will be augmented by more opportunities for you to experience questions and issues of social justice through engaged learning.  We have also increased the presence of full-time faculty teaching Core courses, in the belief that those most familiar with Loyola’s values and mission have the greatest obligation to share that understanding with you, our students. What better way to understand and make meaning of social justice in urban Chicago in the 21st century than to learn from the experience, research and perspectives of a faculty committed to social justice?
My purpose in posting this blog was not to try to define justice for you—as a student you’ll have plenty of opportunities to grapple with this issue in your classes and co-curricular activities.  My purpose in blogging was, instead, to challenge you to begin thinking about what a value like justice might mean to you as a citizen of an academic community that values social justice. How will YOU define justice so that it has meaning for you?  How will you recognize justice—or its absence—when you encounter it?  And what will you do about it?  As a member of the Loyola community—and a future Loyola graduate—will you learn to ‘walk the walk’ of understanding social justice?  Will Loyola ‘walk the walk’ of getting you there and supporting you on your journey?  Let’s touch base with one another from time to time via this website, and compare notes on how we’re doing!
John P. Pelissero, Ph.D.

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